Napster recently confirmed it had three million paying users which, while meagre compared to Spotify's 20 million paying users, keeps it positioned as one of the top ranking streaming services.
Napster might not have kept up in some respects, but its decision to not offer a free tier like Spotify's might actually pay dividends. Spotify is rumoured to be killing off its free subscription almost entirely, so clearly something's not working as it was intended to.
"In terms of Spotify, there is no evidence that their 'freemium' business model is sustainable, as their numbers for the last two years show," a Napster spokesperson told techradar, explaining why the company doesn't offer a free tier itself.
How will you stand out from the crowd?
Napster said its focus "is exclusively on music: we're not trying to sell ads or hardware" and emphasised that the curation process that goes into Napster was based on local trends rather than a centralised decision imposed on all territories.
"We take a localised approach to music suggestions, tapping into the culture of every market to make sure we're surfacing the most relevant music for our members regardless of where they live," it said. "No one person in LA or London is telling Napster users what to think is cool."
Which, of course, is a slight dig at Apple Music's use of Zane Lowe-curated playlists and Beats 1 Radio. But will Napster's current approach see it continue growth in this increasingly crowded market, and with Apple now in the picture too?
The streaming industry is full of uncertainties, as even Spotify is still discovering, but Napster undoubtedly needs to find a better way to appeal to the new generation of music lovers if it wants to go toe-to-toe with the titans.
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